This is where it had hit me, my adventure was over. It was Friday morning and I had to make it to Atlanta by Sunday. Today was the day I am to leave this dream, from here on its just hard riding until I get back home. Funny that word home, I had been homeless for nearly 30 days but felt more at home with out one than ever before. The gearing up seemed to go by too quickly and I bid my farewells and saw my host off to work. Swung by a local breakfast place that had an enclosed glass patio. A dragon fly had been stubbornly bashing itself against the glass thinking that it was for sure going to fly out to the street beyond the clear wall. On my way out I caught it and set it on the side of the glass it was trying so desperately to reach. Moab was good to me and as a final pleasantry she kept all the traffic off the roads and allowed me to open up the throttle on Cindy and tear up hwy 128. The recommended speed was 35 on the turns and I never slowed down to less than 55. I could hear my kickstand grind on the pavement as I leaned way over to make the turns. The lefts, rights, ups, and downs were her way of letting me know that it’s a blast even on the way out.
The towering walls eventually kneeled to the flats of the desert and within an hour I was on flat straight road again with the canyons hidden below the horizon and with mountains at the opposite side. Just as I made it out onto the flats I noticed a piece of tire tread on the road. I though to myself at first it was an animal and as I got closer realized it was just rubber. Right then and there a rabbit, not but a few months old ran out from the right side of the road. My first casualty of the trip. I saw him coming and only had enough time to cringe at the though of what was about to happen to that poor creature. He leaped just before crossing paths with Cindy and connected with the heel of my heavy boot and peg. I turned and saw him tumble over and stop, lying motionless in the road. I knew turning back was useless, it was a goner. I was so mad at at it. Mad that it made a bad judgment call and thought it could beat me across the road and now lay dead on the blistering pavement. The sadness of leaving was relieved by the amazing road out, only to be brought back by the passing of the rabbit. I continued onto the flats with a heavy heart.
As I got closer to the mountains the river turned more and more clear. The rise in elevation brought with it more vegetation. The rock formations and mountains were far more rugged and jagged than the smooth red rock of Moab on the ride up the West side of the Rockies. The road hugged the Colorado River that by this time was only about 30’ across and all white water. The road was all nearly a raised up on a bridge like platform due to the uneven surface of the mountain terrain. The oncoming traffic was above me 20’ feet higher on the slopes.
The ruggedness subsided as I made it to the peak of the overpass and the mountains took a different shape. It was like a fairytale, the dark pines grew in bunches that sprouted from light green rolling pastures of grass. Here and there you would see patches of aspens and even higher the trees gave way to just the grassy slopes that led to still snow covered peaks. It was cold but I did not want to stop to gear up. After riding in the desert for such a long time I forced myself to enjoy the Goosebumps and the shaking. Sections of the road would disappear into a mountainside tunnels and I would reappear to new peaks. I passed several well-known ski villages and the summer months were still good to them. The narrow streets were packed with pedestrians and bikers. The restaurants and breweries had their parking lots filled with cars. I could not resist and stopped by one of the to refill an emptying stomach.
As I rode I critiqued the roads of the US. Ever since west Montana to Portland, down the west coast, and all the way to Denver I had been riding with my jaw dropped at awe of all the beauty. There are so many places that I rode by that are worth exploring that I will get back to in the not to distant future. Everything east of that is just not the same. I am all about the mountains and the rivers.
After Denver it was back to the fields. Again the rain clouds harassed me, threatening to make my ride back less happy than it had already been. I stopped by a gas station to fill up and the speaker had the national anthem paying. I had not realized it was Independence Day. I was quickly reminded when looking up from the pump I could see sporadic displays of fireworks all along the horizon. It seemed that each of the scattered farmhouses pyro communicated with each other as they took turns in launching the colorful displays. I rode a bit longer and stopped at a rest area to set up my hammock and get a few hours of sleep. I had rode 780 miles and had almost 1200 to go. With an evil grin on my face I dared myself to do all 1200 the next day.
5 am came slowly as I tossed and turned and woke up several times. I was eager to stop sleeping and continue riding. My day started on the border of Kansas and Colorado and my mind was set on making it to Atlanta. The ride was uneventful until I got to St. Louis where I joined up with several bikers and rode alongside them for a hundred miles or so. The mind seems to perk up a bit when joining up with other bikers. We parted ways and I was again alone on the road with just my thoughts to keep me company. The sun began to set as I pulled into Tennessee. Ah Tennessee, familiar ground, my work territory. It was the home stretch I could feel it. I watched the sun go down through my side view mirrors. I wanted to stick my arms out and dig my feet into the pavement to stop or at least slow myself down from the inevitable end that was coming to this trip. I wished I could lasso the sun and pull it back up high in the sky prolonging the life of the dying day. It was no use, the sun kept falling until it buried itself deep in the horizon and the miles kept coming as Cindy rushed me along the interstate. This was the first time I had ever felt disappointed at a sunset. My trip had been nearly over.
I stopped at a gas station just south of Clarksville TN and just as I was about to pull up a squad car pulled up in front of me blocking my path. I had my mask, helmet and earbuds on with music blaring. I could see the officer shout something from the open passenger window and motioned him to wait a second, as I needed to take off all of my head contraptions in order to hear him. I was hoping this would not be any trouble for me so close to home. “Where you headed?” I finally heard him holler at me from within the patrol car. I gave him a quick description of what I was doing and when I finished authoritatively exited the vehicle and started to make his way towards me. His walk was very deliberate and focused, I got a little worried and confused as I did not know what I had done wrong. He got next to me and pulled out his hand. “I just want to shake your hand man!” He says with a half chuckle. He was a Harley comrade and wanted to commend my undertaking with a handshake and exchange of information. I breathed a sigh of relief and we chatted for a while. The chat flipped a switch back to Human in me as I had been riding almost thoughtless and emotionless like a zombie for the entire day.